Carlitos Alcaraz has defeated Karen Khachanov in a well-contested Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final, 6-4, 7-5. A few minutes after his victory, he spoke to the press, happy in the knowledge that he had claimed his tenth win in the Caja Mágica and has reached his sixth semi-final of the year in as many tournaments: “that’s a really good stat, I’m maintaining a really high level at every tournament I play in and consistency is something we work on in order to train and maintain the level every week. So far, it’s working”.
Asked about the secret to that consistency, he explained that there is none: “setting goals every day, not only matches, but in practice. You have one or two hours to concentrate and maintain your level during the entire training session and you do that day after day, after day. Concentrating and maintaining the level. That’s the only way to work on consistency and intensity. There’s no secret”.
It was a very tight match and the Spaniard had a mountain to climb in the second set, during which he had to save two points that would have put him 5-1 down: “the points I saved at 4-1 were practically set points. In my head I was just trying to come back in that game. I knew that winning the set from there wouldn’t be easy, but maybe I would have chances to get back into the set”. He also acknowledged that he had a certain amount of luck in that situation: “it was a miracle I saved that game, the backhand was in by millimetres and I made the most of the opportunities that came my way”.
Another of the keys to Alcaraz’s victory was the drop shot. The Spaniard often found his back against the wall, and he explained that sometimes he had no option but to resort to the shot because of the lack of space on his opponent’s baseline: “I couldn’t see any gaps, I have a lot of confidence in that shot, although I used it more today as an escape route than a strategy”.
Carlos has now been on tour for two years, and since their last two encounters he has spent more time studying Khachanov’s game, and he knows that the world No. 12 will have done likewise: “all players try to find a way to cause problems for their opponent and I do the same… every match I try to study how we can put them in trouble and others do that with me”.
Carlitos now awaits the winner of tonight’s clash between Coric and Altmaier in his semi-final on Friday, the day of his 20th birthday. The Spaniard’s teenage years will therefore come to a conclusion with 150 matches under his belt. “It’s incredible that after such a short time on tour, this is my second year, I’ve had the opportunity to play so much on the circuit. The fact that I’ve won 117 matches makes me proud and being so well established on the tour and in big matches has helped me grow and learn very quickly”. 150 matches before the age of 20… just how far can he go?